Wrapping up the 2020 Field Season

October 31st saw an end to the 2020 field season for most of our projects. To say 2020 proposed new challenges would be an understatement! Out of our Havana station, our various projects took us along the entire 270+ mile stretch of the Illinois River, from the outskirts of Chicago to its confluence with the Mississippi in Graton, Illinois, as well as 6 pools of the Mississippi River from Muscatine, IA to Quincy, IL (~132 river miles). In addition, our Black Carp team helped IDNR and USGS in sampling efforts below L&D 26 on the Open River portion of the Mississippi, catching a 45lb individual!

While activity winds down in Havana, our Yorkville crew continues their partnership with the IDNR in Asian carp harvest and control efforts on the Upper Illinois River. Our Upper Mississippi River team is also out partnering with commercial fishermen on Pools 14-19 of Mississippi to harvest Asian carp at the leading edge of their invasion.

2020 field techs
2020 Aquatic Field Technicians (Photo Credit: IRBS Staff)

Throughout the summer, we employed 19 technicians and 5 graduate students, along with 17 full-time staff at our Havana, Yorkville, and Upper Mississippi River locations. We are grateful for a strong year class of technicians and graduate students, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to complete our work. While some will be sticking around our pool of the river for a while longer, others are off to explore new waters. We wish them all well, wherever the flow takes them!

Post written by Kris Maxson

2020 Field Season!

We kicked off our 2020 field season this month! This year we are very busy again sending up to seven field crews out a day working on the Illinois River Waterway and Mississippi River. We have already sampled many riverine fishes including this spotted sucker (Minytrema melanops) and this northern sunfish (Lepomis peltastes). Follow our Facebook page for more cool photos and updates!

spotted sucker
Spotted sucker sampled in the Peoria Pool of the Illinois River.
northern sunfish
Northern sunfish sampled in the Dresden Island Pool of the Des Plaines River.

A Successful 2019 Field Season

IRBS technicians holding largemouth bass
IRBS technicians (left to right: Taylor Bookout, Christian Daniels, and Spencer Phillips) holding Largemouth Bass from the upper Illinois River (Photo by Andrya Whitten).

2019 Field Season Completed!

The staff of the Illinois River Biological Station wrapped up a successful 2019 field season at the end of October. This year we completed annual fish and water quality sampling on over five projects covering areas along the entire length of the Illinois River and select pools of the Upper Mississippi River. We employed and trained 16 field technicians on all projects and gained two new Aquatic Ecologists who work on the Asian Carp removal project on the Upper Mississippi River. Many staff members also attended and presented at conferences and participated at workshops during the field season such as the National American Fisheries Society conference in Reno, NV, the Organization of Biological Field Stations conference in Brussels, Belgium, and the International Society for River Science conference in Vienna, Austria.

Staff member holding a Paddlefish
IRBS staff member, Andrya Whitten, holding a juvenile paddlefish sampled in the lower Illinois River.

This field season, with the continual high water on both rivers, brought challenges in accessing and sampling portions of the river at times. However, we sampled some fish that we do not see often such as an american eel (Anguilla rostrata), paddlefish (Polyodon spathula), blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), hybrid striped bass (Morone chrysops x Morone saxatilis), trout-perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus), and blue sucker (Cycleptus elongatus). Check out our Facebook page for more field season photos!

May & June 2019 Flooding on the Illinois River

IRBS staff members behind flood wall
Andrya Whitten, Amber Blackert, Jim Lamer, Kris Maxon, Brandon Harris, Levi Solomon, McKayla Susen, Kara Phelps, Jason DeBoer, Jesse Williams, and Matt Altenritter

IRBS staff members filled sand bags and assembled a muscle wall to prevent the station from being flooded with a predicted crest on the Illinois River in Havana at ~26.5 ft.

Director Jim Lamer and ecologists Jason DeBoer and Levi Solomon talked with reporter Matt Sheehan from WMBD out of Peoria, Illinois about some of the beneficial effects that floods can have on fish, and also the difficulty of working on and around the river when it’s flooded.

Watch the video here ->